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Tactical Theory: the various methods of dismarking 戦術の基礎:マークの外し方 翻訳 後編

戦術のセオリー:マークの外し方 後編です。 前編はこちら


Group-tactical dismarking
Although man-marking creates several individual duels and can at times lead to a focus on these individual battles, there is huge potential in group interactions to beat individually focused opponents. Group-tactical dismarking then, refers to dismarking methods heavily involving two or more individuals.

It’s important to note that group-tactical methods are not mutually exclusive to the individual methods detailed above. In fact, many of the individual methods enhance the group-tactical ones, and several are fundamentally connected.



Using the 3rd man
One sub-category of group-tactical dismarking is playing with the 3rd man. Using the 3rd man refers to moves where player A indirectly passes to player C, using player B as an intermediary. Using the 3rd man can occur in three main forms; wall passes, layoffs and 3rd man runs.


3rd man wall passes
In most forms of man-marking the defending side leave at least one spare man in the defensive line. This in turn leaves their front line underloaded against the back line of the opponent. As such, one of the possession team’s centre backs are usually free on the ball. In order to advance, the possession side need to transfer this “free man status” further forwards.

As mentioned previously, dribbling towards goal is a common and effective way of creating a free man further up field. The active dribble will, at some stage, attract pressure from the opponent to prevent the dribbler advancing too far up the field. This presser will leave their assigned opponent in the process, the previously marked opponent becomes a free man.

However, they are rarely directly accessible since the presser will often use their cover shadow to block the opponent they were previously marking. An alternative route is therefore necessary. As discussed earlier under receiving patterns, the goal-side positioning of the markers creates open passing lanes to the players of the possession side.

As such, they can effectively play first time passes, since the small time period on the ball gives the defender little chance of access. The nearby marked team-mates can thus provide the alternative route to access the free man.

In these situations, it’s important that the player providing the alternative route is close to the ball carrier and the next receiver. As I wrote last year in my theoretical analysis of the blind side;

“Essentially this makes use of the fact that one opponent can only cover a player from one direction, the key therefore is to create an alternative passing route to the team-mate. The alternative passing routes can only be created effectively if the ball can be moved into another position quicker than the opponent can re-position themselves. Therefore it is vital to create a passing option in close proximity to reduce the opponents’ time to react”





この場面では、ボール保持者に近づき次の受け手になるためにパスコースを作ることが重要です。昨年の"blind side"という分析記事で解説したことです。



Opening and/or using the deepest route and layoffs to the 3rd man

Due to the opponent-orientation, man-oriented defences often lack compactness, with small distances to the opponent favoured over small distances to the team-mate. In turn they are usually unable to prevent passes into even the most advanced attackers.

In fact, against a man-oriented defence the only reason that the most advanced attackers would not be reachable immediately is due to the positioning of the possession side itself. If a player on the possession team is positioned in the passing lane (blocking) to another team-mate, it follows that the player’s marker will also be blocking this lane. The possession side will effectively be halving the workload of the nearby defenders.

In a positional approach then, good spacing is vital to keep as many passing lanes as possible open. With all passing lanes open, there are huge benefits in using the furthest option possible.

“When a team defends man to man, you have to play a lot with the striker” Pep Guardiola May 2017

When the ball and the opponent are both in front of a defender, the decisions and actions are simple. They can see the ball, and their opponent and can simply press forwards if their opponent receives the ball. When the ball moves behind a defender, their decisions and actions become difficult. Seeing both the ball and the opponent is no longer possible. This is particularly an issue for man-markers, since they need to see the opponent if they are to mark them.

When the possession side play directly to a striker from deep, the ball has moved beyond the midfield and forward lines of the defending team. The attention of the defending midfielders and forwards is now drawn to the ball. This is a vital reaction since the ball’s movement will imply their next action, for example if a defender is outplayed, a nearby midfielder will need to drop.

However, this reaction also creates the potential for the deeper players to become free. In some instances, the defending midfielders and forwards will adjust their position when the ball goes beyond them, preparing to cover, whilst in other cases, they remain in position. In either case, their focus on the ball creates the potential for a blind side adjustment from the possession side. By moving out of their previous markers’ cover shadow, the midfielders on the possession side can become available for layoffs.

With a long pass, the time taken and the predictable nature of its destination means the defenders can generate high pressure where the ball arrives. Having an option to lay the ball off, is thus of huge importance. Naturally then, using the 3rd man is an efficient solution. Due to the aspects described above, when receiving the lay off, the 3rd man will have a forwards facing field of vision, as well as space, advantageous conditions for a progressive next action.

An additional point to maximise the benefits of this pattern is the direction of the layoff. Pressure will accumulate in the lane where the ball was played to the striker. If the lay off is made within the same lane, the pressure can easily be transferred from the striker to the next receiver. Ideally then, the layoff will be made diagonally, meaning more space for the receiver, as well as having a forwards facing field of view.

This same pattern of using the deepest route and laying the ball off, can be performed in a more dynamic way. Although it seems counterintuitive, there are some benefits of having a structure where midfielders are positioned in the passing lanes from defenders to the attackers.

When the possession side start with such a structure, the movement of the players will likely be in a direction that opens the route to the next lines. In the positional approach explained above with all passing lines left open, all the oppositional defenders must be aware since the ball could immediately reach the opponent they are marking.

Alternately, in this dynamic approach some of the possession side’s players are not immediately available, since team-mates and thus opponents are directly in between. When a defender’s direct opponent is not immediately reachable, the attentional demands are reduced, often leading to looser marking.

The possession side can take advantage of this with quick movements to open the line to a more advanced team-mate. In many cases, this will mean movement into wider positions to open a vertical passing option. If the movement and pass are quick enough, the advanced team-mate may receive the ball with enough separation from their opponent to turn towards goal. If not however, the wide movement from the deeper team-mate can easily translate into a curved run to receive a layoff.

A further interesting note about the dynamic approach to this pattern, the prior movement to open the direct passing lane means that by the time the layoff is received the receiver will have momentum.




「マンツーマンディフェンスでは、FWとのプレーの数を増やさねばなりません」by ペップ・グアルディオラ












3rd man runs
3rd man runs are the third pattern of playing with the 3rd man. Third man runs differ to the other third man patterns, in that the 3rd man is used for a dynamic breakthrough past a line of the opponents’ defence (usually the back line).

Similar to using the deepest route and laying the ball off (explained above), the feature that makes 3rd man runs difficult to defend is the attention that the ball’s movement demands. In my theoretical analysis of the blind side, I explained in detail the issues that 3rd man runs pose to defenders, here I will make it specific to man-marking.

Whilst seeing the opponent is an important factor for any defence, it is particularly important if you are tasked with marking them. In many 3rd man run combinations, the first pass bypasses at least one line of the opponents’ defence, often the midfield line.

If this initial pass moves on the inside of the defending midfielders, they have to adjust their body position to see the ball. This opens the potential for blind side runs on the outside of these defenders. If the initial pass moves past the outside of these defenders, the potential for blind side runs is on the inside of the defender, particularly dangerous since it’s closer to goal.

Whilst the defender changes their body position, and reads new information (pressure on the ball, direction etc) they are tasked with marking a runner. Even if the defender remains aware of the blind side runner, the act of changing body position, whilst their opponent sprints forwards creates a dynamic disadvantage that is difficult to negate.

This dynamic advantage is what allows the runner to breakthrough lines of the opponents’ defence. The last line defenders may switch from their assigned opponent, to tracking the runner, but they have to attempt this from their previously static position. At this point the runner will have significant momentum.

The speed of the ball’s movement must also be mentioned. When the ball moves at high speeds, access is very difficult for the defence, and on an individual level, the constant adjustment of their field of view makes losing their opponent more likely.


深い位置へのパスとレイオフ(前述しています)と同じように、第3の動きの特徴としてボールの動きに注意が向くので守るのが難しいという事です。私の”blind side”を分析した記事で、第三の動きを守る際の問題について詳しく説明しました。ここでは特にマンマークを対象にします。







Dynamic positioning
Dynamic positioning is another sub-category of group-tactical dismarking. This simply refers to the attacking side’s approach to finding and acting in space, dynamic positioning is where the attacking side primarily use movement to find space.

On an individual level, dynamic positioning is quite a natural response to man-marking, being the result of trying to lose one’s marker. However, it can be applied more consciously on a group level; through positional rotations, opposite movements or overlaps.



Positional rotations
As explained within the individual dismarking section, man-marking is inherently reactive. The nature of following means reacting, and markers often experience a disadvantage due to this. This is the key factor that positional rotations exploit to create advantages.

Positional rotations refers to when two or more players in the possession team swap positions. When one attacker begins a movement, they will briefly create separation from their opponent, giving them the effect of a free man. If this, momentarily free, attacker moves towards another defender, it creates a brief 2v1-like situation.

If the 2nd attacker moves in a different direction simultaneously, the defender has to decide between following their original opponent or staying in position to mark the incoming attacker. Both decisions, of course, imply how the first attacker’s marker should react. If the defender chooses to follow their original opponent, the second defender has to move quickly to also follow their original opponent.

Alternately, they can perform a switch, where they both hold position and mark new opponents, but this goes against the instinct of a man-marker who is trained to follow any movement.

The decision of the first defender is tough, and has to be made at speed, the second defender must quickly react to the first defender’s decision. Creating these decisional crises is what makes positional rotations effective.

In many cases the first defender fails to make a decision quickly enough, being caught between the two opponents, temporarily leaving both free. The second defender then has to read their team-mates’ indecision, and take a decision, by which time one of the moving opponents could have received the ball.







Opposite movements
In some ways, opposite movements can be considered as a type of positional rotation since they share many of the same factors and effects. An initial movement is used to create a temporarily free attacker, whilst a nearby team-mate moves away, giving both markers a decision to make.

Within opposite movements however, the attackers do not switch positions, but simply move in opposite directions. Just like positional rotations, creating “2v1-like” situations for the defenders is the key effect here.

Vertically opposite movements also have the characteristics of vacating position. If an attacker drops from one line of the opponents’ defence to another, their marker will be reluctant to follow if another attacker is running from deep towards them.

The problem for defenders in these situations is that they are trained to follow any movement, so the movement will initially be covered. When the opponent continues to move, far from their original position, the defenders are caught between this trained instinct to follow, and the understanding that moving so far out of position will create an unbalanced structure.

Since the priority when defending is to protect the goal, both defenders usually prioritise the opponent moving towards goal. Therefore, the attacker who moves towards the ball is often, briefly, left free to receive the ball. Only when both defenders are sure that the opponent moving towards goal is covered, will they move to press the one coming short.







Using open man and combining past pressure
The idea of leaving a spare defender for cover, whilst the rest of the team-mates man-mark is highly common in most man-oriented teams. In some forms of man-marking, the individual marking is mixed with ball-orientation as a team. This means the ball-far players are positioned more narrowly to help cover the centre. This of course means the ball-far defenders have bigger distances to their assigned opponents. The distance for the possession team to access these ball-far players gives time for these covering ball-far defenders, however there are potential advantages in playing to the ball-far side.

Since the players on the ball side will be marked tightly, receiving the ball in a static position will mean receiving under heavy pressure. The static position also makes the pressure very difficult to outplay with an opponent so close, who can close the ball carrier’s potential movement angles before the ball is moved.

On the ball-far side however, the larger distance to the opponent gives the receiver a small time frame to receive, before their marker comes across to press. This time frame can be used to take a touch forwards, allowing the possession team to push the opponent deeper.

Alternately, the receiver can take advantage of the favourable situation-dynamic. In this situation, the receiver gets the ball in a relatively static position, whilst the opponent comes towards them. If the receiver has a nearby passing option, they have the potential to combine past the pressure. By passing the ball whilst the opponent presses, the carrier can ensure the ball bypasses the opponent.

The receiver of the next pass will be pressed from behind, and will thus need a passing option. The previous passer can quickly move into space immediately after passing, to go against the grain of the pressing opponent. As such, they can become available for a return pass, breaking the pressure in the process.

Although exploiting the far side was used for a simple explanation, the same dynamic can also be created on the near side. When the possession team can pass to a team-mate who has a passing option and incoming pressure, this same dynamic can be created.

The general idea is that the ball carrier passes and moves into space WHILST the opponent moves towards the carrier, going against the grain of the defenders’ movement to create a dynamic advantage and breakthrough.









A final note
All the patterns detailed above share a dynamic nature (at some point in the process) which is a logical necessity, if one is to create separation from an opponent that is trained to mark tightly.

An interesting point is how the reactive nature of man-marking, forces pro-active actions from the attacking side. To effectively beat man-marking, the movement and actions on the ball often need to be manipulative. These manipulative actions aim to create dilemmas where man-orientation will create undesirable situations for the opponents’ defensive structure, and abandoning their marking assignments is the alternative.

Acting to manipulate, the attacking team can have “prior knowledge” of the situations that their movements/actions on the ball are likely to create. This prior awareness will have benefits when it comes to exploiting the resulting situations.